Category Archives: C S Lewis

Memo: Satan’s 10 Year Strategy for Pornography (Dated June 1990)

1st June 1990Graffiti___Evil_Businessman_by_tmfNeurodancer

Dear Employees,

It has come to my attention that there has been a good deal of amusement caused by my latest 10-year strategy for our Pornography Department: “The Final Push for Pornography”. Many of you have found my ambition laughable, as if it is the wild illusions of a deranged mind. Apparently you think I am dreaming with what I am seeking to achieve, that I should be more realistic. Well, I am writing this memo to all of you to explain what the strategy is all about and why it is so important.

First, we must remember where we have come from and the great victories of past generations. We have made significant strides since the days when physical touch actually had to take place for adultery to happen. In those days there just weren’t enough attractive women for what we had in mind, and this restricted our progress. Men were fairly immune from the temptations we so desperately desired to put in front of them. The busyness of work and family life, and the public scandal of divorce kept many of our targets out of reach. However, as these humans became more sophisticated, we were able to turn the 3D temptations into 2D and begin to make cracks in the Enemy’s defence. Yes, those were hard days, with small victories, but we persisted and slowly the printed page became more wide-spread. We managed to remove the need for physical contact and made our first significant advance by taking the battle into the mind rather than the body. We made sex impersonal – the first critical pillar of their defence to be destroyed.

So, for many years this was our weapon of choice and we managed to make it more and more acceptable amongst them. Those were hard days of trench warfare; it was tough work to make these despicable males expend the determination required to seek it out from the darkest corners of society. Little did they realise what was about to come! I still smile when I remember the ripple of excitement that went through the senior team down here when they first invented the Mirage Maker. We immediately saw the potential of having one of these in every home – striking a dagger right in the heart of our victim by placing it in the middle of his home.  I would say it was at that moment that the inspiration for my current strategy was born. I finally understood what they were capable of and where this could go one day.

Thus, it was around this time that we came up with our vision for our success – making pornography immediate, universal and inconsequential. Firstly, we began to dream of a day when it would be immediately on tap, any time of day, any location, with no need to stop and think. You know as well as I do, that we are at our weakest when these humans have time to stop and think about the consequences of their actions. We realised that key to our victory was removing the buffer between thinking about an act (the desire to act) and then the act itself (the opportunity to act). If we could make access immediate, they would be so driven by their basic instincts that all chance of living a Godly life would disappear forever.

Secondly, we realised that somehow, someway we needed to make this instant access universal. While we have no idea how they do it, they seem obsessed with joining the whole world up to a universal drip of entertainment and sport. We knew back then that we could slipstream on their ambition and turn this to our advantage. Finally, we had to find a way of making it appear to have no consequences. So much of our great enemy’s protection of them comes from helping them to think about the consequences to their actions. We know that we are weakest when they are considering about what they will think about this action from the hindsight of eternity. We must find a way of creating the illusion that it is not hurting anybody else, and because of this very fact (!!), it is not hurting them either. These creatures are gullible enough to believe this, if we can make it convincing enough.

So, to my latest 10-year strategy. I believe we stand on the edge of final victory in this key area of our attack. While many of you may pour scorn over my lofty vision, I can see a day coming in the not too distant future when all three of these aims will be achieved. I do not know when, or how it will be done, but all the key ingredients are now in place. There will come a day these three things will converge and then our victory will be guaranteed. Which of them will be able to stand the tsunami of temptation that immediate, universal and consequence-free pornography will bring? It would take someone of the conviction of Job, the purity of Joseph and the moral discipline of Noah to withstand our charge in that day. We will be relentless; we will turn their so-called advances against them. We will ensure that no corner of the world is left untouched. There will be no remedy to our attack. And when we are victorious over the fathers we will infect the children.

As your leader, it is my responsibility to remind you that complacency is our Achilles’ heel. As we were reminded by recent events in Eastern Europe when the European Branch of our Social Deprivation Department took their eye off the ball and half the continent broke free from chains we had worked so long to bind them with, complacency is our biggest weakness. So you will see in the small print of my strategy paper that we must, by all possible means, stop them from remembering that they were perfectly happy (perhaps even more content) before they had all these gizmos. Just make them look back in superiority over all those “more primitive” times and continually remind them of their own sophistication and superiority and the job will be done – none of them will even think that there is any other possible option. They will consider it ludicrous to actually choose to become a technology hermit only for the sake of their purity, if only we follow the strategy to the letter. The real truth is that this is their only hope – to build a wall of protection around them and their families, that creates a zone of purity within their inner lives and those they most cherish. Perhaps one or two may escape this way, but the losses to our effort will be inconsequential.

In conclusion, as we stand together in the middle of 1990, I want you to know that we have made great strides; we have conquered many lives. In my ambition I look forward to a day when this area will no longer even be a battle ground, because of the overwhelming odds they will face, and we can re-allocate surplus resources towards the other Departments, like we have managed to do in the Primordial Propaganda Department.

I look forward to seeing your progress in this vital area.

Your leader,



Inspired by CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. “…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2.11) …Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5.8)”…and “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5.28).”

What are your Core Values?

Many companies today talk about having Core Values, but few of them live them out. Our values describe the  principles that we live by – what we think are really important, what gets us out of bed in the mornings. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what they are, but all of us have them. Sometimes we say our values are one thing, but the reality of our lives say something else. Our true values are those things that we devote ourselves to, that we give our energy towards and build our lives around.

Hearing about all these corporate Core Values got me thinking – what are my Core Values? Here’s what I jotted down:

  1. Excellence at work – an unrelenting commitment to doing the best that I can every day, pursuing the highest quality work in myself and those around me. Striving to be the absolute best at what I do and do more of what I am good at every day. 
  2. Depth in theology – plunging the depths of the richness of all time greats such as Calvin, Augustine, Luther, Edwards, CS Lewis & Francis Schaeffer and complementing this with an understanding of the modern theological landscape.
  3. Intimacy with Saviour – in the midst of the busyness and responsibilities, carving out a meaningful, devoted walk of passionate intimacy with Jesus Christ.
  4. Honouring my wife – to give her first honour and cherish the life we have been blessed with together. Honouring her in my mind, thoughts and actions.
  5. Investing in my kids – giving of myself, my time, energy, experience, love, wisdom & brokeness into the lives of the three little Links I’ve been given to mentor.
  6. Transparency with friends – building strong, deep, honest relationships with a few close friends, binding our lives together on a shared journey of parenthood, profession and ministry.
  7. Community living – deepening my roots in the community I live in, building relationships and seeking to bless those I live amongst in tangible ways.
  8. Immersed in culture – always having one eye and ear on the changing society in order to  understand where the guy and girl on the street is at, what their questions, concerns and beliefs are and how they are changing.

How these values express themselves will vary over my life, but these will remain the core of who I am. They form the ballast to keep me stable through the trials and stresses of life – bringing me back upright when the waves roll over me. Sometimes I lose my footing and stumble, but if I can focus on these, then the rest of life will take care of itself.

“Not that I have already obtained all this…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I press on to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3.12-14

What are yours? Let me know…

The Stench of Chronological Snobbery

God Is Not Great, Chapter 5

By chapter 5 Hitchens is well into his stride, his main thesis in this chapter is that religion only flourished in the past due to ignorance and superstition in times of “abysmal ignorance and fear”. In these less enlightened times people could (almost) be excused for believing in fairy tales invented to simultaneously comfort the masses and exert power over them. In an incredible demonstration of speed-assassination he rolls off tabloid-like sound bites on Aquinas, Augustine, Martin Luther and Isaac Newton. Each of these men were incredibly deep thinkers and spent years in seeking to understand the world around them through science and faith, but they are assigned to the intellectual scrap heap because they have a theistic worldview. Yes there are things they believed that we look back on now, with the benefit of hindsight, as primitive and simplistic. But to take this anomaly and assign it as a one sentence strap line, or more like epitaph, over their lives is downright dishonest.

In Surprised by Joy CS Lewis reveals his prejudices about the past: “Here were gods, spirits, afterlife and pre-existence, initiates, occult knowledge, meditation. “Why — damn it — it’s medieval,” I exclaimed; for I still had all the chronological snobbery of my period and used the names of earlier periods as terms of abuse. Here was everything which the New Look had been designed to exclude; everything that might lead one off the main road into those dark places where men are wallowing on the floor and scream that they are being dragged down into hell. Of course it was all arrant nonsense. There was no danger of my being taken in.”

The preconception shows itself by a scoffing at anything older than we are, “how less educated they were back then, how foolish” we say. But this attitude forgets two things – firstly that if we had we lived back then our intellectual capacity would have been dwarfed by the names mentioned earlier and secondly, that in 100 years generations to come may well look back on us and wonder how we could have believed such primitive ideas that we think are the height of sophistication today. A little more humility and a great deal more balanced critique of these historical figures is required if our analysis is to stand the test of time. I cannot say it better than Lewis when countering his friend Barfield who had become an Anthroposophist:

“Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my “chronological snobbery,” the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also “a period,” and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.”

It was at this point that I wondered if Hitchens’ one-liners betrayed his journalistic roots – not taking the time to present the case in its entirety – just lifting certain facts to suit the argument. Hitchens seems content to sacrifice a longer piece of even-handed commentary to the quick flashes of an eloquent assault. I began to wonder if Hitchens is only ever able to skim the surface of the arguments, scoring quick points in a tae kwon do style attack, but never plumbing the depths of an Augustine to find the real person behind the fictional caricature. He sums it all up by saying that “we have nothing much to learn from what they thought, but a great deal to learn from how they thought.” Granted, he thinks it is mostly learning from their mistakes!

But wait! There is someone who Hitchens would hold up as a critical thinker of a past century. William Ockham lived in the early 14th century and is most famous for his “Ockham’s Razor” which bears his name – this view describes the attempt to “disposing of unnecessary assumptions and accepting the first sufficient explanation or cause”. Essentially this means he sought to use logic to understand cause and effect behind religious faith. Thus, Hitchens presents Ockham as an orthodox, if controversial, Christian thinker who challenged the religious thinking of his day. In his search to simplify his preconceptions and find a logical explanation to his faith, Ockham realised that the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved. Moreover, in being obsessed with tracing back the cause and effect of each assumption he eventually comes to the wonder “Who created the Creator? Who designed the Designer?” This is music to Hitchens’ ears –a religious philosopher who unwillingly exposes the problem of the origin of God.

However, what Hitchens and Ockham fail to realise is that the “natural law” of cause and effect is not law which binds a free God – it is the expression of a created logical world.  Just as within a jigsaw there are inbuilt rules over which piece will fit with which neighbouring piece, but the designer of the jigsaw is not limited by these rules. So too God stands outside of our laws of nature and philosophical assumptions. Yes, within his created world, he has appointed cause and effect to underpin the world, but he is not bound by such spatial-bound sequential laws.

It’s the same with time – it is pointless to ask who or what existed before God, for he stands outside of time, as an eternal being. Yes we can use logic and reason to understand something of God and his world, but at one point we must put down these primitive tools and accept the knowledge of God through his self-disclosed revelation. Not that this divine revelation is illogical or unreasonable, but that logic and reason are limited in their ability, they can only take us so far. It’s a bit like using a step-ladder to reach the stars – it’s in the right direction, but ultimately futile. So our use of logic is good and proper, but they are not sufficient in themselves.

We need to realise that our knowledge of God would have been extremely limited had he not chosen to reveal himself. As Paul reminds us in Romans 1.20, the world around us testifies to his divine wisdom and unlimited power. But it is unable to reveal his character and attributes, for that we needed him to break the silence and speak to us. But even as God reveals that he is “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34.6), he is still unknowable on a personal level due to our corrupted spiritual hearts. For the knowledge of God must be both experiential and doctrinal, and like oil and water, a pure and holy God and impure, unholy people don’t mix.

We think knowing something is as simple as firing up Google or Wikipedia, but what if I asked you how it felt to win an Olympic gold medal? Do you know how it feels to win a gold medal? Some do, but it’s not something I can know unless I put in the effort, compete and win – there are conditions to be met before we can experience that knowledge. So too with God, we are spiritually incapable of knowing him until he cleanses us and repairs our hearts. This is what Jesus was doing on the cross – making it possible for sinful corrupt creatures to know a holy and pure God. Wining the medal for us, competing on our behalf, and as we become united with him, we come to know what it feels like to win.

It’s not enough to understand and even believe the facts about God (for even the Devil does this), we must experience an awakening of our spirit to a new relationship with him – to be born again in our mind, soul and spirit. Logic and reason can help us to begin to fathom how he made it possible for us to know him, but they can never bring us into that relationship. Only the Spirit of God acting in the humbled heart through the mediatory work of Jesus can create such a knowledge.

A couple of billion heartbeats later

HeartbeatBook 3 Chapter 9 Section 1-6

2.5 billion – that’s the estimated number of heartbeats of someone who lives until they are age 70, at 35 million heartbeats a year. That means if I live until 70 I only have some 1.2 billion heartbeats to go. That’s all that separates us from eternity – just the thump, thump, thump of our cardiac muscle. Obviously many never reach the ripe old age of 70, and a few find that their tired heart can keep going for a few more million beats.

Calvin’s message in Chapter 9 is that Christians should look forward to the end of this life, not from a morbid fascination with death, but because this is when life really begins. He’s not just saying this to make us feel better, he really believes that the best is yet to come. It reminds me of CS Lewis’ play The Great Divorce, when the people in heaven were more real and joyful than they had ever been on earth. There is something coming on the other side of death that will make this life seem like a rainy bank holiday weekend in Llandudno (no offence meant, but you can’t argue with childhood memories!).

Calvin ties this topic into the theme of bearing our cross that we were looking at last time by pointing out that one of the effects of the many afflictions that we bear is that they make us despise the present life. We yearn for an end to our sufferings that sometimes almost make us hate our earthly life. Calvin says that this is one of the legitimate goals that God would has in giving us a cross to bear. The cross is our remedy to an over-indulgence in this life, Calvin recognises the danger that “our minds being so dazzled with the glare of wealth, power and honours, that they can see no further.” In fact, “the whole soul, ensnared by the allurements of the flesh, seeks its happiness on the earth.” So God shows us the “vanity of this present life, by a constant proof of its miseries.”

But alongside the danger of becoming too besotted with the glitter of earth, is the other extreme of becoming so disillusioned that we begin to hate our life on earth. As someone once said, we risk becoming so heavenly-minded to be of no earthly use. Calvin warns against ingratitude to God who has given us numerous divine blessings in this life that we should be thankful for. These are a foretaste of what is to come – “before openly exhibiting the inheritance of eternal glory, God is pleased to manifest Himself to us as a Father by minor proofs – i.e. the blessings which He daily bestows on us.” We must never let our weariness of the troubles of life become a weariness of life itself.

And yet how few believers truly live in the light of these realities, having a desire to depart, while also having proper thankfulness and joy at the simple pleasures of this temporary life? How infrequently we meditate on the reality of the brevity of this life and the certainty of our future life. As Calvin says “there is no fact which we ponder less carefully, or less frequently remember.” But our attitude in this area is a sure sign of the depth of our Christian maturity, for “no man has made much progress in the school of Christ who does not look forward with joy to the day of death and final resurrection.”


Chapters 9 & 10 form two bookends of the Christian life – the former driving us to meditate on the glory of the future life, the latter reminding us of the importance of our stewardship in the present life. It’s vital we hold the present and future life in balance. Without a right focus on both we will become inbalanced and unstable, either becoming intoxicated with the futility of this present life or overly comfortable with our temporal blessings. How hard it is to be both content with what we have, as well as eager to leave the body and be with the Lord. There are many times when I have been more than ready to go, but now with the blessings of a young family and a faithful companion my heart desires to see them grow.

How little we ponder these things, even as Christians. Do we dwell on the reality of the temporary nature of everything we see? Have we grasped that one day, even though none will realise it, there will be the last ever Premiership season, the final Wimbledon Championship, the final season of Formula 1 (this may be nearer than the others!!)…there will be the last house sold but never lived in, the last person poked on Facebook, the final Twitter tweeted. Our task is to live in the constant reality of these truths, while simultaneously finding joy and delight in the momentary sparkle of creation.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1.3+4

Father, we know our lives are fleeting in our heads, but we sometimes convince ourselves us we are here to stay. Help us to number our days aright and avoid either extreme. Inflame our hearts until we meet, that every heartbeat would be full of love for you, Amen.

No one believes in me anymore

Book I Chapter XIV Section 1-22

In the preface to his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes “there are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” Our society has fallen into the former error and as Keith Green had the Devil saying in one of his songs – “no one believes in me anymore“!

It is the subject of angels and demons that Calvin addresses in Chapter 14, inbetween chapters on the nature of God (Chapter 13) and the nature of man (Chapter 15). He splits the chapter according to the nature of elect angels and fallen angels (demons).

Although we are not told everything we would like to know about angels in the bible, we are told a number of important facts about angelic beings:

  • They are not self-existant, but were created
  • They were created good and the depravity of demons comes “not from nature but corruption of nature”
  • They are heavenly spirits who are messengers, or intermediates for God
  • They are employed in our protection
  • Although they know some element of the future, they have limited knowledge
  • They are not to be worshipped
  • They are not indispensible – sometimes God by-passes them to speak and act directly in human affairs
  • We do not know their nature, rank or number and it is vain to speculate beyond what the sciptures tell us

In terms of demons we are also told a number of facts:

  • There are a great host of them
  • They are led by Satan or the Devil
  • They were created good but become corrupt
  • They therefore have the same attributes as angels
  • They are bound by the will of God
  • They are allowed to wage war against the elect angels and believers
  • They are real spirits


As I read this chapter I’m reminded that there is a real and violent war happening right now in the heavenly realms between these powerful beings. How it is conducted is a mystery to me, but the bible teaches that “our war is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in the heavenly realms”. How do our prayers affect this battle? I do not know, but what I do know is that from the moment that Daniel set his heart to steadfastly pray and seek God and an angel was immediately dispatched in response (Daniel 10.12).

How is it that the vast majority of the (Western) world is unaware of this battle? Do we just not want to see the evidence of the war, or is it that we can only see the results of the war and not the war itself.  What is the war for? Is the war related to issues of social policy, national security, cultural values, church unity, or the souls of individual people?

I think the answer is yes for all. As the kingdom of God is established on this world through the work of the Spirit in the believer, then the forces of evil respond at the individual level (our struggle with the world, the flesh and the devil), the fellowship of believers (destroying church unity, purity and effectiveness), society’s values (eroding historic Christian values) and national (anti-Christian laws and destructive leadership).

But before we become paralysed with hopelessness, let us remember that the victory is already won and that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Let us also remember the example of Daniel as how the godly can live holy and righteous lives in a depraved gentile society. How we need those like Daniel today who will not comprimise their Christian beliefs while faithfully serving a gentile king with distinction.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the heavenly forces of evil in the heavenly realms…With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6.12+18

Father, you know how our prayers influence the spiritual battle. We ask for faith to have confidence that You hear us and that our prayers are effective. Help us to recognise it is on our knees that we can do the most damage. For Your glory, Amen.